Why is this a good time to see blue whales?

At this time of year, the blue, fin and humpback whales are all migrating. In the Spring the water temp encourages the phytoplankton bloom which creates nutrient rich waters (they appear green). This is what the large whales come for. They feast! Sperm whales are resident in the area and stay all year round breeding so there are lots of nursery groups of mothers with calves. This part of the Atlantic attracts the sperm whales as the water between Faial and Pico is very deep so the whales come here for deep diving to hunt the squid. 

Where exactly are the Azores? + Weather

Azores mapThey are a mid-Atlantic archipelago of nine islands between Europe and America. It is a two-hour flight from London to Lisbon and 2 1/2 hours flight to the islands. They are part of Portugal.    Average monthly temperatures are given below for the Azores (Horta/Pico).

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

Max °C

16

16

17

16

19

21

24

25

24

21

19

17

Min °C

12

11

12

13

14

16

18

19

19

17

15

13

Rainfall (mm)

112

98

81

65

56

49

35

54

90

100

115

120

 

For information about local sea temperatures please check here.

 

Who goes on the trips?

People of all ages and backgrounds who share a passion for whales and dolphins, adventure and new experiences.  This is an exclusive small group tour. It is also an active holiday so you need to have a good level of physical fitness and enjoy being in nature and the elements.

Who comes on the groups?

Our clients vary from couples, friends and families to independent travellers.  We usually recommend holidays that are most suitable for children and those that are more adult- focused. This tour is more suitable for adults. The holiday is also suitable if you are travelling alone. The timing and interests of friends and family do not always work out to travel together, so to be part of a group like this is a great way to make friends.

Who is the guide?

Your guide is the expert marine biologist Lisa Steiner who has been conducting research into sperm whales for over 35 years. She is knowledgeable and inspirational and will be with you as your guide on the boat. The holidays help to fund her research and improve conservation of whales in the Azores.

What can I do to prepare for the holiday?

Gen up on your whale species so you know what you are spotting from the boat! Practise using your binoculars! Get excited!

Do the boats disturb the whales and dolphins?

In co-operation with the local Azorean authorities, a recognised code of conduct and ethics on the water has been established. These regulations ensure the whales and dolphins, people and the environment are respected. The dolphins love the boats and play in the bow waves. We would never endorse anything that disturbed them. There is a wonderful spirit of co-operation and mutual respect out on the water. We keep a specific distance away from the big whales, although the incidence of whales approaching us, with engine off, has been increasing and is very exciting.

What if there are adverse weather conditions that prevent us going out on the ocean?

Safety is our prime concern and, on occasion, boat trips must be postponed. As the Azores is an oceanic climate, we cannot determine the weather. Although the season we choose is the most favourable, adverse sea conditions, caused by winds, may mean a boat trip is unexpectedly postponed. We have made allowances for the weather by advance provision of additional trips, so we can be flexible to fit in with the weather. In the unlikely event of your trips being delayed due to bad weather, alternative activities will be arranged and replacement tours will be re-booked for later in the tour. Even with some bad weather, it is extremely rare to not have all scheduled trips.

I suffer from seasickness – what do you recommend?

Few people on our trips have been affected by seasickness, but if you think you might, please bring your preferred treatment, as we do not supply any medication. There are local pharmacies on the islands.

How about travel to the islands and being met?

We will talk you through all the travel details and recommend flight times. In the case of land transfers we co-ordinate arrival times and meetings so that our guests can travel together where possible. Our representatives will be there to meet you on arrival and accompany you to your accommodation.

Are there vegetarian dishes available?

In the hotel, good vegetarian food is available. It is not always possible to cater for specific dietary requirements like food allergies, so please discuss these with us when you book. The standard of cuisine is excellent, offering Portuguese and a mixture of other international influences. There are many local fish and meat specialities.

Money

The local language is Portuguese, although most people we work with speak excellent English. The currency is in Euros. There are cash machines in town. You can pay by credit card for food at the hotel and for souvenirs at the whale-watch base or hote, or carry some cash.